The child sits with her head on her hand, leaning against the cherry wood table. The child is wearing a “Forsaken Demon” t-shirt and an Ataxia mask, all while holding the new Mia action figure in her hand. It’s safe to assume that it is young Chloe Hawkhurst sitting at the table.
“Daddy, why do you and Taxi have to fight each other?”
“I told you, Moo. It’s a friendly match. We both want to show everyone that we are the best. In order to do that, we have to settle it in the ring.”
“But, what if you hurt each other?”
“That’s an occupational hazard. Anyone can get hurt. You got hurt. Do you think Cas…”
Dorian’s face gets red with anger. He looks at Chloe and he starts taking some deep breaths.
“I’m sorry, baby girl. I lost it for a second. I’m still angry that Cassandra turned tail and ran. When someone does something wrong, they need to learn there are consequences for their actions. And unless you want Daddy to end up back in jail, I can’t do anything about it. Unless, of course, she makes the mistake of coming back.”
“It’s okay, Daddy. I had fun.”
“You had…” Dorian facepalms. “You had… FUN? What in the bluest of blue hells is wrong with you? Are you on dog food?”
“I’m your kid. You tell me.”
Dorian looks at Chloe, barely seeing her smirk through her Ataxia mask.
“Fair point. Well played, kiddo.”
Dorian shakes his head in spite of himself.
“So, you’ve got all this stuff, why no Shadow merch?”
“I don’t know. You haven’t ordered me any.”
“You haven’t asked.”
Dorian looks up at the clock.
“Listen, baby girl. You gotta go to bed. We’ve got some things to take care of tomorrow. Come here.”
Chloe slinks off the chair and mopes over to her father. Dorian reaches down, removes his daughter’s mask and kisses her on the forehead.
“Good night, sleep tight, and don’t let the bedbugs bite.”
“Love you, Daddy.”
“Love you, too, baby girl.”
Chloe drags her mask off the counter and continues moping the entire way out of the room. Dorian sits there for a moment, seemingly lost in thought.
“You’ve got to learn your lesson… I can work with that.” Dorian thinks aloud before walking off screen himself.
The scene cuts to Dorian standing in front of a large dry erase board. He has on a white shirt with a pink striped tie. He stands behind a podium and is wearing a pair of glasses that, judging from the way his eyes are bugging out, are not his prescription. In front of him, sitting dutifully in front of him, are a slew of stuffed animals, Barbie dolls, Ninja Turtles and a few other toys. They are sitting in rows, as though they are in a classroom.
“I wasn't quite sure how to approach this match. In the back of my head I'm like “Why they booking me against my boy the Taxman? Truth be told, I don't know why. Man, I don't care why. Ataxia and I, we've been through some wars. I ain't saying that it's the kind of war that the men and women in our armed services fighting. It was a different kind of war, and I recognize that.”
“It wasn't until I talked to my little girl, my mini demon, that something clicked in my head. Now, we all know that I'm not that bright when it comes to book learning. I've done my time studying at the School of Hard Knocks. I've done my time and I've learned my lessons.”
“Now, Ataxia done put me through my lessons. He saw the raw iron that was the “Demon of Sobriety” when I first arrived here so many months ago. He took that raw iron and he put it through the fires of hell, he hammered down on me with all his might, and he forged me into the “Forsaken Demon.”
Dorian takes a pointer from behind the podium and directs our attention to a badly sketched stick figure surrounded by flames and a square hammer drawn directly over the head.
“At the time, I didn't see what homeboy was doing. I thought he was just trying to fuck with my head, trying to get a leg up on me mentally. I'll be honest, he almost broke me, almost being the operative word. Here I stand today. In spite of my setbacks against Jace Valentine and against Caledonia, I know I am one of the best that CWF has to offer.”
“There comes a time when a man must no longer question his worth. I know who I am as a man. I know who I am as a father. And I damn sure know who I am in the middle of the squared circle. The last thing that Ataxia taught me was how to get up when you get knocked down. I could have taken this match sooner. I could have asked for a rematch. I didn't want to be given a rematch because I lost. I wanted this shot, but I wanted to earn this shot, not be given the shot.”
Dorian points to a different drawing on the board. This time, the stick figure has a decent sized belly on it, but is standing in the middle of the ring holding what looks like a badly drawn title belt.
“This is the goal. This is what I want. If Ataxia defeats me again, I'll gladly give him a tip of the cap as a show of respect. However, this isn't the time for that. Now is the time for the student to become the teacher. Now is the time for me to once again become Impact Champion.”
“I know all of the games Ataxia likes to play, except for the ones involving flugelhorns. I know that when I expect to have the answers that he will go and change the questions. I'm fine with that. Well I may not know what's coming, I know not to be surprised by anything that does.”
“We all have lessons that need to be learned. I've said that several times, man. Cassandra, that cunt dropped out of school before she could learn her lesson. If she's as dumb as she looks, and she's dumb enough to come back to CWF or stupid enough to work for any company where the “Demon of Sobriety” Dorian Hawkhurst is on the roster, it won't be a lesson she has to learn. It will be her goddamn funeral.”
“Jace Valentine is another man who is going to have to pay the piper eventually. Although, I really do applaud him for taking advantage of the situation the way he did. I would have done the same thing if the situation was reversed. That doesn't mean that he doesn't have a receipt coming. It just means that right now he ain't a very high priority.”
Dorian steps to the side and points to two stick figures that seem to be holding a smaller stick figure by the arms.
“As for the two masked pieces of shit thought it would be okay to put their hands on my daughter, strike three. It was a mistake targeting me. Strike one. Your next mistake was coming down to the ring to try to screw me over. Strike two. Your last mistake was putting your hands on my baby. I don't know who you are. I don't fucking care who you are. When I rip off your masks, I don't care if you are Cassandra, if you are old man Jenkins, if you are Jesus Christ reincarnated and come back to fucking Earth, you're going to get yours. Strike three, bitch.”
“Now, if you want to play your little games, I invite you, I'm begging for you, man, to come down to the ring while Ataxia and I are handling our business. At that point, you will become our business, and we will destroy you before we go back to doing what we do best. I can't think of any two wrestlers that got more press this year than Ataxia and I. You know why we got all of that press? Because we are earned it by being too of the toughest sons of bitches in the entire industry. If you want to test us, if you're feeling froggy, just jump. But know that I will put you down. It'll be just like Old Yeller without the tears. “
Dorian returns to his spot behind the pulpit.
“Ataxia, my dear friend, I'm afraid I've gotten a bit distracted. For that, I'm truly sorry. I felt that I needed to address all the other distractions before I gave you the focus that you deserve. “
Dorian removes his glasses, shirt and tie, throwing them wherever they might land.
“I thought about playing your game, Ataxia. But I remembered the old adage: “Never argue with an idiot, for they will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience. Now, I’m not saying you’re an idiot. We all know you are more like a mad genius. But I know if I try to play your games, you will play those games and you will play them better than I could.”
“You see, Ataxia, I learned my lessons and I learned them well. I learned that you can beat a man mentally as well as physically. But I also learned that in order to achieve what you want to achieve you must impose your will on your opponent. You don't lay their games. You don't walk into their real house and expect a positive result. And with that 10, 15 pounds of gold you got around your waist on the line, I ain't even going to try to play your games. No, sir.”
“I guess I'm giving myself away by telling you what I'm going to do. I'm going to come at you hard and fast. You know exactly how it goes. I've danced with the devil in the pale moonlight and I've come back and asked for an encore.”
Dorian taps his finger impatiently on the top of the podium.
“Now… Ataxia... The question you have to ask yourself is “How well did I learn my lesson?” Or an even better question “What lesson did I learn?” Am I really coming at you head-on or is this all just a clever ruse? Am I playing the game by my rules or your rules? Or is it even your game in the first place?”
“I'm going to shoot you a fair one. I am giving you my word that Chloe will be staying out of this. This ain't part of the game, man. Just like you and The Shadow gave me your words that you wouldn't screw me over, I'm not going to screw you over. I wouldn't do that to you because of how much I respect you and I sure as hell ain't going to make my daughter pick sides.”
Dorian steps away from the podium and points to one last drawing on the dry erase board. It is a well drawn picture of two hands shaking.
“I let Chloe have her fun with all these doodles, but I wanted to make sure this picture was clear as glass. When we're all done with this, this is where we stand. Win or lose, we stand United. We Stand forsaken. See you at Summer Games, Taxi.”
Dorian stares intently at the camera as the picture fades to black.